Free Markets, Free People

Lawless and Unbound

A primary reason for structuring our government with the checks and balances it has was to prevent a concentration of power. The POTUS was specifically limited because of the position’s duties, and the danger exercising them could mean to the freedom of the people. America didn’t want a king. Well, we may gotten one anyway.

The House of Representatives held a hearing yesterday on the Obama Administration’s exercise (or non-exercise) of it powers, and asked whether or not the Executive branch was properly following the “take care” clause of the Constitution. AllahPundit provides some commentary on the hearing, focusing Prof. Jonathan Turley’s testimony:

If you have time for only one snippet, though, skip to 2:33:00 for his list of Obama’s five most egregious violations of separation of powers. Some are familiar to you — declaring that he wouldn’t deport illegals who might qualify for DREAM, refusing to enforce the employer mandate, etc — but the ones about him shifting money around without regard to how Congress has appropriated it might not be. Turley makes two valuable points here. One: Courts tend to give the executive a wide berth in separation-of-powers challenges on the theory that Congress has the power of the purse and can defund any executive agency it likes. But that’s not true anymore, he says. Obama, by defying appropriations, has claimed some of that power for himself. What check does Congress have left? That brings us to point two: Even if Congress can’t stop Obama, the courts can. The problem there, though, says Turley, is that O and the DOJ have argued successfully in many cases that no one has standing to sue him because no one can show an injury from his power grabs that’s concrete enough to justify a federal lawsuit. So the courts can’t check him either.

The only check left, it would seem, is through elections. Which isn’t a check at all on a term-limited President. Of course, there’s always the impeachment route, but that doesn’t seem likely (despite what some in the media think). Turley thinks it’s not even being considered:

Now, I was the lead witness but I was testifying in through the haze of a raging flu. So I went back and checked. Impeachment was mentioned in passing but it was quickly discounted. Indeed, I specifically testified that, as someone who testified at the Clinton impeachment, I did not view such a measure as warranted given the ambiguity of past decisions. Indeed, the references to impeachment were made in the context of the loss of meaningful options for Congress to respond to such encroachments when the President reserved the right to suspend portions of laws and fought access to the courts in challenging such decisions. Yet, the Post simply reported that the word impeachment came up (not surprisingly) in a discussion of the options given by Framers to Congress in dealing with unlawful presidential conduct.

During the hearing, not only did I discount impeachment as an option, but a Democratic member specifically asked the panel about the references to impeachment. No one could remember how it came up but it was clear that no one thought it was a substantial issue — or significant part of the hearing.


In a discussion of checks on the presidency, impeachment is one of the enumerated options given to Congress. Notably, past judicial opinions involving such separation of powers controversies have also discussed impeachment with the power of the purse as devices given to the Congress. In discussing impeachment with these other powers, courts were not advocating impeachment or suggesting that it was a viable solution in that given case.

In the end, since the Senate is held by the same party as the President, impeachment isn’t a serious option. But the Obama Administration’s unwillingness to faithfully execute the laws passed by Congress remains a serious issue. At this point, the only options left would seem to be either shutting the government down, or refusing to pass any new laws since the POTUS won’t execute them anyway. And whither goes the Republic.

31 Responses to Lawless and Unbound

  • At the end of the conversation — which touched on a myriad of topics, from piracy to Iran — Obama revealed what’s at the top of his bucket list post-White House: “At least I know what I want to do when I retire … host ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 list,” Obama quipped as he turned to Disney’s Robert Iger, whose empire includes ESPN.
    What is this man waiting for … resign today !!

  • “And whither goes the Republic.”
    You said it, using the homophone of whither…wither….
    And wither goes the Republic.

  • “… since the Senate is held by the same party as the President …”
    Check back in Novemeber

    • Did anyone think Obama would get a second term?  Don’t count your chickens.

      • The promise of free stuff and the propaganda machine have taken the majority of voters far off into the weeds from reality.  The sting from the cold splash of Obamacare may not be as profound as you think given a year’s time.

  • I’ve been thinking about this, in the context of why some cultures (specifically Anglo-Saxon) have been sucessful while others tend to create banana republics.
    The key thing, I believe, is a culture that has “maturity”, basically self-restraint. That was clearly demonstraited in English culture in the English Revolution (also the first American revolution, and a precurser to the 1775 American Revolution.

    In order for rule of law to work, you need a culture of virtue, one where people follow the rule of law because that is what is done, even if they don’t agree with the results.

    Banana republics result from people not following the rule of law, but doing what benifits them or what they think is best.

    It requires a POTUS who follows the rule of law, and a population (including his supporters) who insist he does.

    The fundamental problem is that no constitution enforces its provisions. El presidente or the party in power can always violate any written rule of law if willing and sufficient people are willing to look the other way. 

    It reallly comes down to culture, not the specific set of rules involved. Obama’s Democratic party is the banana republic party. 

    • Agree.  Excellent.

      • I didn’t want to create a huge post, so I left out factual examples to support my case. Now I’ll add a few:

        * John Adams defending the British soldiers who were involved in the Boston Massacre.

        * George Washington setting the example of volentary term limits . . . contrast with Santa Ana suspending the 1824 Mexican Constitution . . .

        * Jefferson Davis, who did not flee after the Civil War and was treated well.

        It is good to compare and contrast with the behaviour of other countries, to get a clear understanding of our own.

    • Economist Hernando DeSoto makes a great case for the difference being property rights. His book can be gotten at Cato Institute. It’s the one measure the never fails in determining prosperity. And it includes your CASH as well as your REAL property.
      Of course, there has to be a property rights respecting CULTURE to go with it. This was brought up in one of the last podcasts (this past week or the week before).
      A nation of parasites and usurpers is doomed. The US has developed a cottage industry over the past few generations to leech from the productive.

      • I’ve read some of his stuff.

        I agree property rights is key. My point is that property rights (and liberty, etc.) derive from rule of law. Rule of law derives from a culture that respects rule of law.

        His perspective is more economic, while mine is more historical. Also, discussing culture per se may not make sense in some contexts; he can’t say “let’s become Anglo-Saxons”. He can suggest policies that drive the culture in the right direction to create the same conditions.

        Note that in the 1500s it was the Dutch leading the way towards captitalism. Properly functioning culture doesn’t have to speak English.

        The success of the Dutch and the English in moving in the right direction in the 1500s and 1600s derived from a mix of factors, including protestantism, commerce, and politcal liberty all working together in a special way to advance towards the future. Of course Venice might indicate that such advancement might happen in a catholic nation as well, but the individualism of protestantism had to help. I’ll also note that the elements of political, religious, and economic freedom tended to start small and advance from there to great things, when it was not snuffed out.  

  • During a congressional committee hearing about the constitutional limits imposed on the presidency and the implications of President Barack Obama’s disregard for implementing the Affordable Care Act as written, one expert testified that the consequences of the president’s behavior were potentially grave. He said that the precedent set by Obama could eventually lead to an revolt against the federal government.
    On Tuesday, Michael Cannon, Cato Institute’s Director of Health Policy Studies, testified before a congressional committee about the dangers of the president’s legal behavior.
    “There is one last thing to which the people can resort if the government does not respect the restrains that the constitution places on the government,” Cannon said. “Abraham Lincoln talked about our right to alter our government or our revolutionary right to overthrow it.”

  • One big problem here is the issue of “standing”, or the legal capacity to bring a challenge in court.
    I have long advocated that every state should have “standing” in Federal matters, in the person of the state governor, or in the state legislature.
    I’ve never seen a good argument against giving all members of Congress standing, either.

    • The idea that we can’t prove suffering for his edicts……disturbing
      No more ‘reasonable man’ I guess.

    A good, useful piece on “opting out” of ObamaDoggle, as millions of us are doing.

    Remember, peeps…
    “Preference cascade”.  When you’ve lost the Millennials…well…

    • The question is the depth of the loss; what did these people really learn? 

      You and I are looking at Obama’s lawlessness with wide eyes, but these people supported him until they realized he lied his ass off and it trying to force them into expensive insurance they don’t want. They may have waken up, but will they ever really understand? 

    • “Preference cascade”….I heard about this term many times in 2012. And then Obama was re-elected.

      • From what I can see the Democrats lately are the Jason Voorhees of political parties.     You think they’re dead….and they ain’t.
        Course it would help tremendously if the media didn’t follow them around with adrenalin and defib paddles.

      • True.  I used it back in 2012, because it was in prospect.
        Now we MAY be seeing it.  We’ll see.  But the news on recent polling is HUGE.


    Another example of a deep pathology that should never be allowed near power.


    Jonah Goldberg wrote recently that Obama is not just a narcissist, but a victim of (or steaming pile of) hubris, which he found to be distinguishable and a whole lot worse.
    I agree. As I understood his argument, Obama eschews reality. There is a lot about post-modernism and other crap he was taught that would prepare him to be JUST that delusional.
    Now, for expert commentary on eschewing reality, we turn to the Mavin Of Moosesqeeze…

  • Government can’t stand on the sidelines in our efforts. Because government is us. It can and should reflect our deepest values and commitments.
    —Pres. ScamWOW

    In that brief two sentences, we see the day-night schism between Obama and American values.
    To Americans, government is decidedly NOT us, and it was recognized by the Founders to be NOT us. Rather, they considered the central government especially…which they created and empowered only reluctantly…to be ANTI-us so much they very carefully constrained it in its charter.
    Government should NEVER be used to express “our deepest values and commitments”. We don’t share values and commitments, so if government is expressing the “deepest values and commitments” of some, it is prejudicing the “deepest values and commitments” of others.
    That is our right, individually, to do, and we can voluntarily join with others to “express our deepest values and commitments” in our associations.
    But not government, except to the absolute least degree possible.
    And Obama IS using government to “express his deepest values and commitments”, which come exclusively out of Collectivist ideology and aspirations for a political monoculture.

  • “If on the other hand, you’ve got an office in Cincinnati, an IRS office, that I think for bureaucratic reasons, is trying to sreamline a difficult law to begin with, and interpret whether a non-profit is a political organization, deserves a tax exempt agenc, ant they’ve got a list. Suddenly, everyone’s outraged… And, I’ll point out that there are some so-called progressives and perceived to be liberal commentators during that week that were just outraged at the possibility that these folks had in some way been discriminated against. And, that is what gets news.”
    —Pres. ScamWOW to “Tongue-bath Tingles”

    Huh.  At the time he learned about this from reading it in the papers, Baracula was “outraged”, too.
    And now we have emails…which are kinda smoking guns…showing direct communications on this topic at the time between the IRS and the Obami.
    This isn’t going to help him with his creds.  This is just that hubris problem in 3d.

    • He needs to be really hammered on this, AFTER his cred is Zero from Zerocare.

      The problem with things like Fast and Furious is that it is so over the wall no one was willing to believe it (outside those who would never vote for him in the first place).

      Destroy his cred with Zerocare.

      Further destroy it with the IRS scandal, etc.

      THEN bring up F&F again . . .

      • I like the way you think…
        But…Benghazi.  Don’t forget Benghazi.

        • Hollywood will cloud the public memory on that by producing a movie about a group of college students having ‘hilarious’ drunken misadventures on a college trip to the Roman ruins of Leptis Manga that winds up in mistakenly traveling to Benghazi.
          Say the words Fast and Furious, especially NOW, to the average person.  All you’re going to hear is how it’s awful that Scott Walker died.
          Before last week, you’d have had to hear how they liked the first movie…

          • Course if they point out it was Paul Walker that died……they know more than I do   🙂